- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

Haiti represses rights
Haiti is failing to meet its international obligations to protect free speech and guarantee an independent judiciary to investigate the murder of journalists, according to the Organization of American States.
Haitian reporters have accused supporters of authoritarian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of killing and harassing any journalist who investigates charges of government corruption.
"Freedom of expression means not only being able to express ideas and opinions but also the ability to do so without suffering arbitrary consequences or acts of intimidation," Eduardo A. Bertoni, an OAS human rights investigator, said in a report released this week.
The OAS yesterday also adopted a "strong message" that calls on Haiti to ensure free and fair elections next year.
In his report, Mr. Bertoni said he inquired into the cases of journalists Jean Dominique, killed in April 2000, and Brignol Lindor, murdered in December 2001.
Mr. Bertoni, special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, also investigated charges of intimidation against judges handling the murder cases.
"It is disturbing that those whose freedom of expression is curtailed cannot always rely on effective judicial protection to detect those responsible, put a stop to intimidation and ensure reparation for the damage done," Mr. Bertoni said.
He also reminded Mr. Aristide of his obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights to guarantee free speech and other civil liberties.
The OAS resolution expands the group's role in monitoring the political crisis in Haiti and calls on Mr. Aristide to guarantee a free and fair election.
"We have sent a strong message to the people of Haiti and to the international community that the [OAS] remains vitally engaged in promoting democracy, the rule of law and the prospect of a better life in Haiti," said Roger F. Noriega, U.S. ambassador to the OAS and chairman of the OAS Permanent Council.
"The resolution calls on the government of Haiti to fully comply with past OAS resolutions and to take further steps to ensure free and fair elections, end impunity and strengthen democracy."
Peter DeShazo, the deputy U.S. ambassador, announced that the United States will contribute an additional $500,000 to help fund the OAS Special Mission to Haiti because the organization must back up its words with action.
"Adopting this resolution does not resolve the political crisis in Haiti. Words can never do that," he said.
"Only concrete actions taken to implement the commitments and mandates set forth in this resolution can help resolve the crisis and put the country on the path to strengthening democracy."

Uribe to meet Bush
Colombia's new president, Alvaro Uribe, will visit President Bush later this month to discuss Colombia's "agenda" with the United States, Colombian Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno said this week.
"This will help determine the Colombian government's agenda with the U.S. over the next four years," he told Reuters news agency.
Mr. Uribe will travel to New York for the Sept. 11 memorial service, his first trip to the United States since taking office Aug. 7, and promises to confront Marxists rebels who have waged a 38-year civil war.
He will make a separate visit to Washington for a Sept. 25 working lunch with Mr. Bush. The United States has provided $1.5 billion in aid to Colombia, chiefly to combat drug trafficking. Mr. Bush is seeking more than $550 million in new aid to help Colombia defeat both the rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups that profit from the drug trade.

Envoy to East Timor
President Bush has nominated a congressional staff lawyer to serve as ambassador to the new nation of East Timor.
Grover Joseph Rees served on the House International Relations Committee staff since February 2001 and is also an expert on human rights. He is also a former chief justice of the High Court of American Samoa.
Mr. Bush also named John F. Keane, a career diplomat, to serve as ambassador to Paraguay.
Mr. Keane is a former director of Central American affairs at the State Department and a former deputy chief of mission in Venezuela.

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